Continuing the interview from Tuesday, I welcome back author H.O. Charles.
H.O. Charles was born in Northern England, but now resides in a beige house in Suffolk.
A Cambridge graduate who really ought to get on with writing a PhD, Charles frequently becomes distracted by writing fantasy fiction instead. Hobbies include being in the sea, being by the sea and eating things that come out of the sea.
City of Blaze – The Fireblade Array
Hidden by monument and pride, the city is crumbling beneath a mountain of its own indulgences. Its army abuse the castle’s servants, confident that deadly wielders have been exterminated; wars are fought to encourage otherwise absent mortality; countless people suffer from the terrible pangs of nalka, the hunger for intimacy; and all the while its king concerns himself with choosing which of his disappointing concubines to execute next. The duty falls upon his emotionally withdrawn son, Morghiad, to restore the city’s strength and the army’s purpose. In his attempts to do so, he uncovers darker horrors and encounters a young servant who could either be his greatest ally or his greatest hindrance. City of Blaze is a story of changing allegiances, self-control and love.
26. What music are you listening to lately?
I’m a bit of a Muse fan and will be off to see them play live in May! Woo!
27. If you were going to cast the main characters of your book, who would get the part?
I’ve tried answering this question before, and it’s really hard to know. I have such a set picture in my mind about how the characters look that no one in the real world seems to come close!
28. How likely are people you meet to end up in your next book?
Hehehe. I’ve only ever put elements of one person I liked into my books. As for people I don’t like, they haven’t been written in yet, but it could happen! I can certainly think of a few candidates…
29. What genre would you write if you didn’t write fantasy romance?
Probably a contemporary thriller, or historical mystery… or anything really. I’d quite like to write at least one book in each major genre.
30. What would be the last genre you’d ever consider writing in?
The sort of fiction that tells me I should belong to one religion or another.
31. How did you decide to enter the world of writing?
As above, I was drawn to writing when I felt I had no control over anything in my life! As for making it a professional endeavour, I don’t know exactly how and when I made that decision. I think I saw someone else advertising their book and I thought, I can do better than that!
32. Was there a scene that you didn’t add or you removed in your finished work?
Not whole scenes, but certainly descriptions and bits of dialogue that were just a waste of text. I have also changed the endings to certain scenes. There’s a section where Artemi travels to a sort of parallel dimension and encounters alternative versions of the people she cares for. In the final version, she leaves without the man she loves. In the original story, I had her take him back to her own world… but that would have been too easy!
33. What is your favourite writing conference to attend?
I’ve never been L I don’t leave the house. Outside scares me.
34. What was the best advice you were given leading you to getting published?
Be patient; keep writing. If you can stop, stop.
35. Do you have a mentor?
36. What is on the horizon for you? Any interesting news or books we should know about?
I’ve told you about Shatterlight – I’m quite excited about that. Otherwise, I’ve been thinking about getting a doggie to keep me company during the day. All I need now is a regular income with which to support him/her. Hmm.
37. Tell us a little about your WIP.
Shatterlight is a book about an academic who is drawn into some rather messy situations and falls in love with a man whom everyone else would find repugnant (and for good reason).
It’s been a challenge to write because, unlike your oh-I’m-such-a-monster-vampire romances, I cannot offer the male lead any forgiveness for his actions or make those actions sexy. He is just… genuinely horrible! But that doesn’t stop the female lead from falling for him.
38. Do you believe in love at first sight or just lust at first sight?
It took a number of years for my partner and I to go from friends to sexytime lovers, and I love that about our relationship. I think it makes for very solid foundations. I’ve never fallen in *proper* love at first sight, though I’ve felt strongly attracted to one or two people upon meeting them. Perhaps love at first sight is possible, but it hasn’t happened to me.
39. How do you feel about self-publishing?
I think it has democratised the publishing world to some extent, and it does mean that the really original works of fiction that most publishers would have chucked in the bin now have an opportunity to see the light of day. Publishers almost always choose books because of their potential earning value rather than their artistic merit, and that means niche books are easily brushed aside and forgotten.
True, self-publishing has produced a HUGE amount of rubbish. There are books with absent grammar, cardboard characters and contrived plots, but it’s not all like that.
There’s also the issue of royalties. Even with ebooks, a big name publisher will jack up the price and keep a huge proportion of the list price for themselves. They will offer authors between 10 and 15% royalties on the sale of each book, and authors normally accept that figure on the basis that they’ll get free advertising and distribution. I know of academics who’ve had popular works published by one of the big houses, but they never received any kind of promotion and very little in the way of distribution outside Amazon. Self-publishing and those 60% royalties might have served them better.
40. If you could switch places with one of your characters would you?
Hmm. Probably not. They have immensely difficult lives and everything always seems to go wrong for them!
41. What is your favourite book of all time and why?
I don’t know!! I can’t choose! Why do you ask me these difficult questions?!
I did once pick up a Victorian copy of Layard’s “Nineveh and its Remains”. It was a very beautiful book, full of the romance of Victorian archaeology. *sigh*
42. What do you wish you would have known when you first started writing that you know now?
The problem is there’s nothing I could have learned without making mistakes. I had to get it wrong in order to learn how to do it right. One day I’ll count the number of edits of City of Blaze I’ve produced, but I think it’s getting into the hundreds now. I wish I’d known everything I know now, but that knowledge would be useless without having gone through all the rigmarole and frustration of getting things wrong in the first place. It would be like having spoons and no cake to use them on.
43. Where can we find more information about you and your books?
44. What did you do to celebrate when your first book was published?
I hid in a corner and watched the sales reports without blinking. I only celebrated when I saw a sale, and my celebration consisted of saying, “Woo!”
I’ll celebrate properly when I’ve sold 100,000!
45. If you could share a romantic evening with any character from romance literature (any genre), who would it be and what would you do to him/her (ahem! With him/her)?
Hey, I’m not going to cheat on my real life love!
46. What comes first for you: plot or character?
Aren’t they sort of the same? I mean, you can’t have a plot without the character being a certain way. Artemi would have no masonry to dissemble if Morghiad were not made of stone, and Morghiad would have no emotional outbursts to suppress if Artemi were not so impassioned. I would argue that the characters are the plot.
47. Who is, hands down, the sexiest actor of all time?
Haven’t we had this one??
48. Do you have a favourite character (from your book)? Why?
Silar. He’s a rogue, but very charming with it. He would sleep with every woman he met if he could, but his heart won’t let him. He’s also incredibly loyal to his friends, and that tends to land him in some difficulty.
49. What does your family think of your writing?
I didn’t tell them about it for a long time because I really didn’t want them reading the sexy bits. Plus, I was wary that they’d try to write five star reviews everywhere, and that I’d get into trouble!
My mother did read the books recently and she did seem to enjoy them. I think she might be biased though! My dad tried to read the first one, but I’m not sure it was his thing. At least he said it was well-written. Hah.
50. Do you have any last words?
I’m not dead yet.